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WITH A MAGICIAN OF CAIRO               95
for evil ends, or if he fails in the highest courage, then there is always the possibility that some of his genii will turn and rend him, bringing unforeseen troubles, accidents or even death itself. The greatest marvels can be shown by the help of such spirits, but where the magician has only imperfectly mastered these servants, they may be pitiless towards him should they rise in revolt/'
"Do you think the ancient Egyptians knew of these genii, too?"
"Of course, such knowledge was the chief part of the power of their priests. Genii were used to act as guards over the most important tombs and treasures; they were invoked in temple ceremonies; and they were also used for the most evil purposes,"
I told him of my experience in the Great Pyramid, when I had spent a night in the King's Chamber and, in vision, beheld two priestly spirits as well as a secret passage.
"Inside the Pyramid and connected with the Sphinx there is a peculiar order of genii," he commented. "They were captured by ancient Egyptian High Priests and imprisoned in those places to guard certain secrets. They throw a glamour over the mind of anyone likely to penetrate the secret places, and thus defend them from intrusion. Yes, I too believe that secret passages and chambers and hidden records are contained within the Great Pyramid. Once I went there with the object of investigating them, but, as the watchmen do not permit one to go down into the underground passage, I had to return disappointed. Still, the genii who guard the Pyramid and Sphinx secrets can be won over—only to do this it is essential to know their particular form, invocation, name and written sign. This knowledge, unfortunately, has been lost with the ancient Egyptians."
I raised a query concerning the alleged powers of the magician. The old man agreed that they were limited.
"Of course, we cannot claim to do everything. We can do certain things and no more. Allah alone knows and commands all. We can but try to use our art, but Allah's is the final word."
I wandered out into the dusty street, under the clear pearly light of Cairo's sky, carrying in my jacket pocket an enormous reddish-brown, polished agate shaped like an egg, which the magician had given me as a keepsake and which, he said, had once belonged to a Pharaoh. As my fingers stroked its sleek surface, I thought of the man whom I had just left and of the